Recommendation 191

Values-based recruitment for nurses

Healthcare employers recruiting nursing staff, whether qualified or unqualified, should assess candidates‘ values, attitudes and behaviours towards the well –being of patients and their basic care needs, and care providers should be required to do so by commissioning and regulatory requirements.


The government’s Mandate to Health Education England contained a requirement to ensure that selection into all new NHS-funded training posts incorporates testing of values-based recruitment. NHS England is working with Health Education England and NHS Employers to support the introduction of values-based recruitment and appraisal for all registered or unregistered staff.

Placing a strong emphasis on values at the outset of training potential staff is vital to embed the principles of compassion and caring from the very beginning in those who will one day provide care to patients. It is essential that the staff of tomorrow are able to demonstrate not only academic and technical ability, but also that they have the values of kindness and compassion that are needed to care for patients in an emotionally demanding environment.

Health Education England and local education and training boards (who are responsible for the education and training of NHS staff within 13 different regions in England), are working with employers and education providers to be responsible for the development of the future workforce. They also have a role to play to ensure that the current workforce is fit for purpose and able to provide care of the highest quality.

As set out in its Mandate, Health Education England is committed to the introduction of values based recruitment for all students entering NHS-funded clinical education programmes and to also support such processes for recruitment into NHS employment.

The three key objectives of Health Education England’s national values-based recruitment programme focus on:

  • recruiting for Values in Higher Education Institutions
  • recruiting for Values in the NHS, and
  • evaluating the impact of Recruiting for Values

Over the long term, Health Education England sees values-based recruitment as part of a wider programme to change attitudes and behaviours of NHS staff, enhancing their engagement and continuously improving healthcare for its patients.

In addition, there is an on-going project to develop values-based recruitment tools for social care providers. This project, involving the National Skills Academy for Social Care, brings together a range of directly-targeted, free, easy-to-use tools that employers can use when recruiting staff, to assess candidates for appropriate social care values, as evidenced through their behaviours.  These tools can sit alongside other tests around competencies and skills.

The toolkit adapts materials that are already currently available and brings them together in a package, in the first instance to support employers in recruiting the right candidates for a career in care. There is also an option to extend the toolkit to assist potential candidates in deciding whether they are suitable to pursue a career in care.


With Health Education England, NHS Employers has developed a mapping tool to allow local organisations to map their values to those in the NHS Constitution. NHS Employers has also produced guidance for employers linking pay progression, appraisal and performance management. This includes a number of resources to support employers including good practice case studies and a model policy. Further resources including case studies and podcasts will continue to be developed during the year.

NHS Employers is also leading the implementation of action area 6 of the Compassion in Practice implementation plan for the Chief Nursing Officer – this focuses on staff experience.  Year one of this work has highlighted good practice in strengthening the delivery of the NHS Constitution pledges to staff and signposted employers to existing supporting resources.  Discussions are underway to agree the content of the Year two programme which is likely to include the development of a mapping tool to link local values and the compassion in practise 6Cs.